DETROIT (AP) — Wisconsin scored in the opening minutes of the first two periods and went on to rout Rochester Institute of Technology 8-1 in the Frozen Four on Thursday night at Ford Field.
The Badgers will play the winner of the Miami of Ohio-Boston College game for the national title on Saturday night.
John Mitchell scored 1:27 into the game and Jordy Murray made it 3-0 at 2:18 of the second, allowing Wisconsin to coast against the overmatched Tigers. Scott Gudmandson made 13 saves for the Badgers.
RIT’s Jared Demichiel stopped 27 shots before being replaced late in the game by Shane Madolora, who gave up a goal on the only shot he faced. Jan Ropponen then came on and allowed one goal on three shots.
The game was played at the home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions. About 35,000 tickets were sold, but empty seats in the football facility and a lopsided game without a local team led to a lackluster atmosphere.
When Detroit landed the Frozen Four, organizers dreamed of putting the ice in the middle of the field and packing 70,000-plus fans around it as was done for the men’s basketball Final Four last year.
The plan was wisely downsized, putting the ice near an end zone, and placing portable sections along the boards opposite the team benches.
It felt like a hockey arena with a game-time temperature of 60 degrees and 47 percent humidity thanks to air conditioning that created a breeze strong enough to make curtains that cut off portions of the venue sway from side to side.
RIT fans who made the trip from upstate New York tried to create a buzz 90 minutes before the puck dropped, chanting “R-I-T! R-I-T!” but the Badgers quickly quieted them and made the final score the only thing in doubt.
Mitchell scored off a rebound on the second shot of the game, and Derek Stepan put Wisconsin ahead 2-0 midway through the second period.
After Murray scored early in the second, Justin Schultz made it 4-0 a couple minutes later.
Wisconsin had a pair of two-man advantages midway through the second period and took advantage of both, on goals from Michael Davies and Blake Geoffrion, to lead 6-0.
RIT then called a timeout, but there was nothing that could be said or done to change the outcome.
The Tigers did, though, avoid a shutout with 28 seconds left in the second when Tyler Brenner banged in a shot from the left side off a crisp pass to make it 6-1.
Craig Smith and Stepan scored 20 seconds apart late in the game to finish the scoring barrage for the Badgers.